Getting Backed Off at a Casino

Written by: John Mehaffey , Expert on Las Vegas Casinos, Games, and Travel
6 minute read

Casino Jackpot WinnerCasinos advertise big winners in an attempt to lure players onto the gaming floor.  This is a great way to show that players win to potentially skeptical customers.  Most of the screenshots of jackpots have one thing in common.  They are on slot machines or other unbeatable games.  The big hits often come from players making a sucker bet.

Social media accounts belonging to casinos rarely tweet out big table game winners.  Those players often do not want any recognition for their win.  That is because they do not want casinos to know that they are long term winners.  That might increase their chances of getting “backed off” at other establishments.  This means a casino will stop accepting action or limit it to keep expert players away.  There are many ways players can help prevent this from happening.

What Happens When You Get Backed Off?

Getting backed off can occur in a variety of ways.  Blackjack players are the most likely to get backed off.  This is due to the fact that a level of skill can beat games with decent rules.  Card counters are the most likely type of blackjack players to experience this.

There are two ways to get backed off of a real money blackjack game.  One is where the pit boss tells the player that his action is no longer welcome at the casino.  The player must immediately leave the table.  The casino may permit the player to continue to give action at other table games but not blackjack.  The pit boss may ban the player from all table games.  The back off can last for the evening, be permanent, or last any amount of time in between.

The other form of back off is where the pit boss sets rules on future action from the player.  This typically means that the player must flat bet every hand.  Not being permitted to vary bets takes away most of the advantage that a card counter has at blackjack.

What to Do When Getting Backed Off at a Blackjack Table

Do not try to argue with the pit boss if you get backed off from a blackjack table.  There is nothing you say that is going to change the decision.  If anything, you will make them angrier and it may get you banned permanently instead of just for the day.  The pit boss is more likely to remember you later if you make a scene.  It also gives time for surveillance to get a better picture of you.

Do not take your chips to the cage after getting backed off.  Return at a later time during a different shift.  This will make everybody less likely to recognize you.  A cage image shot may be the best one casino surveillance can get of you.  This makes it easier to track you later if you decide to return and try your luck again at this casino.

How Do Blackjack Card Counters Get Discovered?

The most common action that gets a player backed off is because of bet spreads.  This means that a bet is changed from one hand to another.  For card counters, this is often in direct relation to the number of face cards and aces left in the deck.  A bet spread of higher than one to four may start to draw attention.  This means betting more than four times the original bet of the shoe or deck.  A bet spread of one to 10 or higher will ask for quick trouble.

What Can Blackjack Players Do to Prevent a Back Off?

The best way to prevent a back off is to lower the bet spread to one to four or five.  This may not be ideal because the big edge comes from larger bet spreads.  Another option is to be more careful when the pit boss is watching.  This is not fool proof as surveillance may be watching, although they are less likely to catch bet spreads, especially when smaller chips are used.

Not using a players card is a good idea.  This will help prevent a permanent banning.  The casino may not know your name if you do not present a card.  Winning blackjack action is highly unlikely to trigger much in the way of offers so there is little to lose and everything to gain by playing anonymously.

Cover play is another way to prevent getting backed off.  This is where a player knowingly gives action to low quality games in an attempt to show he is willing to play with a house edge.  Examples may be giving a couple of hundred dollars in handle to a slot machine, playing some video poker at the bar or giving action to a table game that involves pure luck like craps and roulette.

Other Types of Back Offs

Some players may not get backed off but can suffer other consequences from being too sharp.  Some players that use a rewards card at the tables may not receive any comps or credit for the action.  This means no mailers with free play and no access to a host.  Any comps earned can be revoked.

Video poker players can also get backed off.  That occurs when a player only gives action to high payback machines or only plays on promotion days.  This can come in a few forms.  The most common is where a player no longer qualifies for comps and mailers.  This is called getting added to the “Do Not Invite” list.  An extreme measure would be to kick the player out of the rewards program.  Cover play can often be a good way to prevent a video poker back off.

Any player that thinks he has an advantage over the casino should never leave comps or points on a card.  You never know when a casino will determine that you are undesirable and void all comps and points.  A player does not have to be sharp for this to occur.  It can happen when the player has done nothing but get lucky at games that require skill.

John Mehaffey

John Mehaffey Expert on Las Vegas Casinos, Games, and Travel

John Mehaffey is a poker and casino expert who has been playing online games for money since 2001. He knows how to find the best video poker and table games and writes about casino players' clubs, promotions, and things to do in Las Vegas, where he currently resides.

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